Not sure how else to describe it to you. It’s hard to go through the trauma and fierceness of labour, hold on to hope for 40 hours and walk out of the hospital holding a box instead of a car seat.
On Sunday the 17th November, I went into fierce pre term labour. If you haven’t had the blessing of feeling a contraction before, you might not understand the pain of this stage. But I can tell you its shakily traumatising. The pain is something I can only liken to a thunder storm going through your body… And that’s when you’re labouring closer to full term…I was only just over the safety of 24 weeks.. I arrived 3cm dilated and in excruciating pain. Although unbroken, the membranes had already dropped through the open cervix. I was given steroids and magnesium to help mature the baby’s lungs and brain so they could develop in a hurry incase birth was to happen. I was given pills to try and stop the labour and contractions.
I vomited. I cried. I held the hand of the warmest Neonatal Consultant (Claire West – Waikato Hospital) I had ever met. And I tried to hold on.
Then at midnight the pressure of the membranes was too much and it popped. Because the baby was so small, it slipped through he cervix and into the vagina. The head however was stuck and I had to get my cervix cut to let it through. This process is rare and will have huge implications if we want to have any more children. A process I hope to share with you at a later stage. It took about 6 minutes to get the head through, which probably didn’t help the pressure that was being put on the baby’s head and the chance of survival.
Following this, my baby was taken to the NICU unit at Waikato Hospital and I was taken to theatre to have the cuts in my cervix stitched. My husband went with our son (i can only imagine the fear that went through his head with his wife going one direction and his son going the other) and possibly watched in horror as they went through the thorough process of resuscitation, tubes, bags and God knows what else.
For the 40 hours that followed the birth, we ventured between the ward and the NICU unit in a haze. We watched our son’s vitals go up and down. We read the doctors faces as they talked to each other and to us. We cried as we were told the brain bleed that had showed in the first 24 hours, had developed from a grade 2 to a grade 4 – basically brain dead (my words).
Inviting our parents and siblings and their partners in to come and see our son, lying in the inclubator in the NICU unit, was a horrid time for me. I wanted to curl up and cry in a corner and not have to face the world for days. These people, who I do love dearly, had no memory or connection with this baby of mine. No one did. No one did except me as I was the one who had carried him for 24 weeks, but I had to allow other people into my space to cry over my son. I know now that they were mourning for us, but at the time it felt completely inconsiderate.
We were able to hold our son at the very end. I held him as they took the breathing tubes out and he took 2 last gasps. His heart fluttered for another couple of hours as he used up all the oxygen and medicine that had been pumped through his body. I didn’t enjoy the experience. I felt physically uncomfortable as my body was still processing that it had given birth. I had bloody pads between my legs, a sleepless body, bulging breasts and a uterus that was contracting. I can’t face lifeless humans at the best of time and this time I had to face my own child who had come out of my own body. It was physically, emotionally and mentally painful. Pain that I never thought I would ever imagine experiencing in my lifetime.